Senator Rand Paul Engages with Students in the JFK Jr. Forum

April 28, 2014
By Jenny Li Fowler, HKS Communications

One of the Republican Party's most dynamic figures took to the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum stage last Friday (April 25) to engage on a range of policy issues with a packed house filled with Harvard students.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) dedicated his brief public address to the topic of privacy and the Fourth Amendment, leaving almost 40 minutes for questions from audience members. The questions ran the gamut -- from abortion to healthcare to gun control laws. The senator provided substantive and clear responses.

Paul on abortion – “I am pro-life. I think there’s something special about life. I think it comes from our creator and that will always be my position. As a legislator I’ve introduced legislation that reflects that. Where are the people? The people aren’t exactly there so there needs to be discussion and persuasion but I think sometimes it gets dumbed down too much that we’re in one extreme or the other. And our discussion needs to be more about what does the vast majority of the public want and think there may well could be incremental change and I think that’s most likely to happen."

On economic stimulus – “There’s another way to stimulate the economy and this is what I would propose. Instead of taking money, and bringing some back and me picking who I would give it to, which with the department of energy loans 80 percent of them turned out to be contributors to the president, what I would do is give it back in the form of reducing taxes.”

On the Republican Party – “What I’ve said repeatedly is the Republican party will adapt, evolve or die. They’re not big enough. They have to be bigger; they have to include more people. I tell people the Republican Party needs to look like the rest of America to have a chance and that means with tattoos and without tattoos.”

On gun control laws – “I’m a believer that guns, while used incorrectly or maliciously, is (sic) something that needs to be feared. At the same time I’m also a believer that guns prevent crime in the sense that there is a deterrent value. We have a country where we have the lowest home invasions because you don’t know who has a gun and who doesn’t but about 50 percent of America does.”

During his public address Paul argued that individual rights need to be protected under the Fourth Amendment.

“The Fourth Amendment says we don’t have generalized warrants in our country. The Fourth Amendment says you have to have your name on the warrant, that you have to identify what things you want, and there has to be probably cause. And the warrant doesn’t come from a policeman or a soldier; it comes from a judge. When we were attacked on 9/11 we sort of forgot about all this stuff.”

Paul criticized the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records, and is currently fighting for credit card records to be protected by law.

The Forum was sponsored by the Institute of Politics.

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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

“What I’ve said repeatedly is the Republican party will adapt, evolve or die. They’re not big enough."